Why does getting a cold cause me to have an unquenchable thirst?
May 5, 2022 9:14 PM   Subscribe

The day or two before I get a cold, I get an unquenchable thirst. I can go through liters of water and still feel completely dehydrated. It is met with a dry mouth, mild sore throat and swollen glands, but no other symptoms. It feels like if I drink enough water, the cold will pass without me getting sick...

and indeed sometimes it does. I googled this and it said that I have diabetes. That doesn't match my experience - as it is coupled with early cold symptoms and goes away. Also my son was just sick with a cold - so I think it's a cold. What would cause this?

Also, I'm drinking a lot of water. Should I stop? Can I make myself ill?
posted by Toddles to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you excreting a lot too? Take care that you are keeping your salts and minerals up.
posted by Thella at 11:06 PM on May 5, 2022

Sounds like your body is watching out for you!
posted by yueliang at 11:23 PM on May 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Often, when a diabetic becomes ill, their blood sugar increases even if they are doing everything correctly (eating regularly with lower carbohydrates depending on the individual, taking their medications as prescribed, exercising regularly, etc). This will cause thirst. If you haven't been properly tested, I would recommend it - as you may be experiencing symptoms of illness that you quickly managed to subdue... but I wouldn't rule out diabetes without running those tests. You may be in a pre-diabetic stage or metabolic syndrome. Many people often go without symptoms for many years before a healthcare practitioner will test for Type 2 diabetes mellitus due to subtle but consistent symptoms or increased risk factors. If you otherwise seem healthy, and have little or no risk factors, there is still the possibility of Type 1 Diabetes mellitus from viral or other unknown causation. I am a retired RN. ~NYRN.
posted by itsflyable at 12:03 AM on May 6, 2022 [14 favorites]

I have that symptom when my upper airways get irritated (like the first phase of a cold) and I breathe more through my mouth, drying it out so I feel like drinking more. Also each time I go to a doctor about a cold, they tell me to drink plenty of fluids, so it can't hurt.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:14 AM on May 6, 2022 [4 favorites]

Doctors' perennial "drink plenty of fluids" admonition is working its subconscious magic.
posted by fairmettle at 12:44 AM on May 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So I had this symptom a few weeks ago when I had Covid, and it went away very quickly when I followed someone's suggestion to drink an electrolyte drink instead of just plain water.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:10 AM on May 6, 2022 [13 favorites]

It feels like if I drink enough water, the cold will pass without me getting sick... and indeed sometimes it does.

I don't get the unquenchable thirst thing, but if I start to feel the tiniest tickle of a cold I will drink like a whole half-gallon of orange juice that day and often that is the end of the cold symptoms. I should probably try it with water next time - much less sugar and calories!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:49 AM on May 6, 2022

Like BlahLaLa, sometimes a non-water drink seems to quench my thirst when lots of plain water will not. I'm not sure why. I am cheap, hate fake sugar, and find most Gatorade/etc too sweet, so I make my own with water, a little sugar, a little lemon juice, salt, and potassium chloride salt substitute. Not like lemonade, just a splash of lemon to make it not taste like salt and potassium chloride.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:01 AM on May 6, 2022

I get the OJ craving before I get sick as well and have started keeping vitamin C tablets (Airborne for me but others are available) around and popping a couple of those instead.
posted by bowmaniac at 6:40 AM on May 6, 2022

Best answer: Also helping with unquenchable thirst: magenesium (which is an electrolyte, but Mg is easy to buy as a supplement if electrolyte tablets are unavailable).
posted by amtho at 7:43 AM on May 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

Routine plug for my beloved electrolyte drops that have no sweetener and no real flavor beyond a slight citric acid note. You can put it in anything you're drinking.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:58 AM on May 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. I picked up some electrolytes and contacted my Doc - blood tests on Monday. We'll see what it all means!
posted by Toddles at 4:35 PM on May 6, 2022 [4 favorites]

« Older COVID-quarantine specific travel insurance?   |   What do I need to know about working at a very... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.